Your project management office (PMO) and wider business doesn’t have the skills and resources to do everything. This is why you need to strengthen your PMO’s engagement activities with your suppliers.

As businesses have worked to become nimbler and reduce costs, having external suppliers to outsource work to and partner with has become the norm. Suppliers don’t just deliver resources, they’re strategic partners that are integral to project delivery.

Having a strong relationship between your PMO and suppliers can help you tackle a range of hurdles. To explore creating this engagement in more detail, we’ll be looking at:

  • The reasons why supplier engagement is important
  • What you can do to create better supplier relationships
  • Practical examples that can build profitable relations between your PMO and suppliers

Why is supplier and PMO engagement important?

Your PMO likely has a broad range of suppliers that you rely on to support the projects you run with human and other resources. For the sake of this blog, we’re using suppliers to mean:

  • Consultants
  • Sub-contractors and freelancers
  • Vendors
  • Special trades and skills

You’ll work with each for different reasons and during different parts of a project lifecycle, so having a good relationship with all of them is useful. The reasons you should build engagement with your suppliers include:

  • Ensuring your PMO, the projects you run, and the business, in general, receive good value from suppliers; you’ll likely get better pricing and the best quality when you have a long-term relationship.
  • Simpler procurement processes when you know exactly who to send an email to and get the resources in place, cutting through complexity with personal relationships.
  • Keep up with industry trends by having regular contact outside of your business and in an adjacent sector to where your business operates.

Business functions on personal relationships and your PMO can help nurture those, along with project managers and the C-suite.

What can a PMO do to build better supplier relationships?

Strong relationships will ensure that you can get the resources your project needs, exactly when they’re needed. You want your suppliers to feel valued as a collaborator rather than as a cog in the business transaction.

There are tried and tested ways you can work on engagement with your suppliers.

Regular supplier assessments

You may have retained a supplier to offer one set of services, but in the time you’ve worked with them, they may have expanded or upskilled. It’s also possible that their processes and hierarchy has changed.

By asking your suppliers if they have new services, skills, or products available on a regular basis, you can learn more about their strategic direction and show that you’re keen to build a deeper relationship.

Sponsor networking events

As a company running projects with a range of suppliers, you’re likely a hub for small businesses. You can decentralise your suppliers and introduce them to each other to show your PMO knows how valuable each one is.

Your PMO can sponsor a networking event, offline or online, to introduce your suppliers to each other. Not only can this make it easier to communicate changes in your PMO and systems, but they can consider working with each other and appreciate the opportunity for growth.

Share project appraisals

It can be hard enough the get a project appraisal or debrief completed thoroughly when there is always another project to kick-off. Your PMO will already know how important the feedback from appraisals can be for internal teams.

Make it a part of the appraisal and feedback process to include your suppliers. They can offer valuable insight as an input into the appraisal and will also benefit from understanding what went well and what could have been improved in projects they worked on.

Show appreciation

Whether you decide to say thanks after each supplier engagement, at the anniversary of you working together, or at a set time of year for all suppliers, it’s important to say “thank you”.

This can be as simple as sending some useful company merch or inviting your relationship and account managers to an informal meal or away day. By showing that you value their contribution, you can be sure you’ll get the best supplies delivered on time.

How to strengthen supplier relationships with your PMO

There are many reasons why your PMO needs to strengthen its engagement with its suppliers. It’s likely there are many external companies directly involved in getting your projects delivered, and you want to make sure your business gets priority and allows your suppliers to improve what they deliver for you.